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Wednesday, 15 June 1904

Sir JOHN QUICK (Bendigo) - I hope that the Attorney-General in deciding the matter will go a little further than he has already suggested. I believe that in the early history of the Arbitration Court a very large number of complicated questions of law will be raised, not only in reference to the interpretation of the Constitution as relating to it. but also in reference to the construction of the Bill itself.

Mr Higgins - What would be the nature of the questions?

Sir JOHN QUICK - Questions of law.

Mr Higgins - I can hardly conceive that there will be very many.

Sir JOHN QUICK - Undoubtedly there will be a great many questions of law raised in the initial stages of the Arbitration Court.

Mr Higgins - Does the honorable and learned gentleman mean under the Bill ?


Mr Higgins - Does the honorable and learned gentleman not think that the President of the Court will be competent to decide, being a Justice, of the High Court ?

Sir JOHN QUICK - I think that it is necessary to provide for these questions of law being dealt with by the highest tribunal in the land, and that is the High Court. I think, also, that the parties should have some voice in the matter. I believe that either the employers or the employes should have the right to ask that a special case shall be stated for the opinion of the High Court. It should not be left solely to the President of the Court. He might rule against a point raised, and decide that he would not state a case. His ruling and interpretation of the law would be final, though it might, in the opinion of many persons, be erroneous. If there is to be no absolute finality in the Court, and there is to be some provision for review, it should ' be ample and complete. It should be a legal right of the parties to ask the President to state a case. If he refuses to do so, I would give them the right to go to the High Court, and apply to it to require him to state a case. That may be done now under some of our State laws. In many cases under the State laws the parties have a right to ask a Judge to state a case, and if he refuses they can go to the Full Court, and require him to do so. When that is done the whole matter is practically decided on the application to state a case.

Mr Hughes - In what circumstances should it be made imperative?

Sir JOHN QUICK - I can conceive of these special cases being confined to questions of law. I think that questions of fact should be finally dealt with by the Arbitration Court. Honorable members will perhaps remember that questions of law only are matters of appeal under the Constitution from the Inter-State Commission to the High Court. I do not see why in this case, in matters, of legal interpretation, the right of appeal should not be conceded to the parties interested. I, therefore, hope that the Attorney-General, in considering the matter, will go a little further than he has stated, and will give the legal right to appeal on legal questions.

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